A Childish Analysis

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Normally I’m wary of importing market-esque thinking into non-commercial policy spheres, but in the case of the interminable ‘Why aren’t younger people more inclined to vote?’ debate I wish more thought were given to the simple economic possibility that if you want people to buy, you have to be selling things they want. (Even an ‘entrepreneur’ appears convinced of the opposite, that people ought to vote for platforms they disagree with in the hope that future platforms will get more attractive as their reward for participation. As though, if you wanted wine but nobody was selling it, you should start buying beer from the local brewery, in the hope that your patronage of its beer would encourage it to plant vineyards instead.)

Instead we seem to get a lot of sociological speculation, such as an article that tries to be insightful about the possibly shifting nature of adulthood in the modern world, but basically ends up insulting people by suggesting they’re just too immature to be interested in voting. In its analysis, many people now incur delays in entering ‘the world of work as full adults’ because of such childish matters as, er, ‘the painful search for jobs’. That the painful search for jobs might itself be a source of maturation, very much an adult’s problem, and every bit a reason to be interested in what political parties propose to do to the economy, gets hand-waved.

I wonder whether people of any generation have ever truly thought that they reached ‘full adulthood’ once it was bestowed upon them by an employer. (Maybe in the era of guilds and apprentices and journeymen...? Though child labour in agriculture and in factories and up chimneys went on rather later than that.) Much like all the rot about ‘digital natives’, this kind of analysis sounds novel and exciting (much more so than the thought that adult unemployment is still much the same phenomenon it was during the Great Depression), but all it really does is put a distorting filter between you and the people you’re trying to comprehend.

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